Glory and Brocken Spectre from Reunion Island

January 06, 2011

Photographer: Joel Balazuc
Summary Author: Joel Balazuc; Jim Foster

The photo above showing a classic glory and Brocken Spectre was taken on my way to the FenĂȘtre des Makes (Viewpoint of the Makes) astronomical observatory on Reunion Island. Sunset was approaching while fog and low clouds climbed the island's verdant slopes. The glory is the group of brightly colored rings and the specter is the observer's shadow projected forward through fog droplets. Diffraction of sunlight doesn't satisfactorily explain the glory phenomenon. It seems that Mie scattering (scattering of sunlight by uniform spheres) provides a better, but not a complete, explanation. Like the rainbow, the Sun must be at your back in order to see the glory and spectre. Photo taken in June of 2004.